Dub Ditch Picnic :: Rebuilding, Moving Forward with 50th Release


by Broose Tulloch

In less than four years, local music label Dub Ditch Picnic has reached a pivotal milestone, releasing its 50th album, err cassette, April 1st. The compilation of 50 artists includes several local acts that have enjoyed some success on Campus/Community radio, such as Dead Ranch, Beef Donut, and Kindest Cuts.

More than a celebration of 50 releases, the compilation will be a celebration of life. In November, a serious car accident nearly claimed the life of Dub Ditch Picnic and Prairie Fire Tapes (PFT) co-founder Chris Jacques. The record companies went on indefinite hiatus while Jacques struggled to regain control of his own body and get on with his life.  Already winding down, PFT was unceremoniously shut down, leaving behind a legacy of 65 cassette tapes. Aside from the novelty and nostalgia of the pretty much obsolete device, Jacques has his reasons for cassette releases.

“I like cassettes,” he proclaims. “They were a big part of my childhood/adolescence. On a pragmatic side, they are not too expensive to produce.” But easy to find, they are not. Jacques sources his tapes from a supplier in Montreal. The tapes themselves are the garden variety “Normal,” not the fancy Type III or Chrome.

“I use normal tapes because I use pro-grade high speed duplicators. The metal in chrome or cobalt tapes would chew up my record heads in no time. Try to replace those these days.”

Besides, the real attraction back in the day wasn’t the quality of the more expensive tapes, it was having the extra buttons on your stereo or ghetto blaster. The difference was negligible.

Being old school means having a tactile relationship with your music; holding the box, reading the notes, hearing the hiss, not just playing a file.

“None of our releases are strictly digital. I find that a cop out. Our benefit release has 50 artists and is hours long. We are doing a run of DVD-R mostly for the bands, but may keep it in production if demand is high.”

Artwork for the appropriately titled I’ll Hang With God, But Not Today features a photograph of Jacques’s car after the accident. Five months later, it still rules his life.

“[I’m] still healing and learning how to walk and think again and there is tons of physiotherapy, doctors, and neuropsychologist appointments. It’s a full time job,” he says.

Newly married and with a new baby on the way, time was already in short supply before the accident, now there wasn’t enough time in the day to be family man, run a record label and recuperate.

In addition to closing down PFT, which was more noise and drone, Jacques seriously considered shutting everything down until Taylor Burgess joined the fold. “[He] is my right hand dude and the new and younger face of the label,” says Jacques.

While Burgess is in the early stages of a new compilation, Jacques has somehow found the time to start a new label, Sundowning. Its first release will be a retrospective of seminal Winnipeg band The Dub Rifles.

“I’m super excited,” he says. “I’ve known [Dub Rifles’ frontman] Colin Bryce a long time and I really like and respect him. This is a high point for me.” Given the popularity of the Rifles and scarcity of their recordings, this is sure to be a high point for fans as well.

“Why make things easy?” laughs Jacques as he explains the need for separate record labels. “Dub Ditch Picnic is everything that Prairie Fire Tapes wasn’t. PFT did noise and drone; DDP is more of an extension of my record collection, Winnipeg-focused post-punk, psychedelia, and dub.”

And the story behind the label name, Dub Ditch Picnic?

“It was a place on the northern coast of Jamaica. I was headed into town with my (now) wife and another couple. I saw this place and wanted to eat there, but one of the people we were with said, “I’m not eating in a DITCH!” So they went to Margaritaville and I went to have beans and rice and Red Stripe in this little place with crazy Rasta dudes howling over a beatbox. Lunch = picnic, [so it’s] a Dub Ditch Picnic.”

For more information on Dub Ditch Picnic, visit online dubditchpicnic.tictail.com and look for the new DDP compilation I’ll Hang With God, But Not Today on their bandcamp page, dubditchpicnic.bandcamp.com

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